The Wrap: Portland roaster wins US Coffee Championship event, Bar Futo and Twelve debut dishes

Julien Langevin of Portland, winner of the United States Coffee Tasters Championship, inspects brews during the competition last weekend at the Specialty Coffee Alliance Expo in Boston. Photo by J. Rene Martinez

A Portland coffee roaster defeated 22 competitors from around the country to win the United States Cup Tasters Championship held at the Specialty Coffee Alliance Expo in Boston last weekend.

Julien Langevin, a production roaster at Coffee by Design, took first-place honors at the event, one of six live US Coffee Championship events at the Expo. For the Cup Tasters, participants taste-tested “triangulations” of three cups of coffee in which two are the same. Their goal is to identify the cup that’s different in the shortest amount of time.

“As much as I prepared for this competition, I didn’t actually prepare to win,” said Langevin, 25, a self-described “coffee nerd” who has been training for the event since the qualifying competition was held more than two and a half years ago.

Coming into the championship in Boston last weekend, Langevin said he’d been careful to keep his diet relatively bland, avoiding spicy, acidic or intensely flavored food that might compromise his palate. Since February, he’d been putting himself through eight sets of test triangulations each morning at the Coffee By Design roasting facility, before starting work.

“I was ingesting over 1,000 milligrams of caffeine a day,” he said. “Luckily, caffeine doesn’t really affect me all that much.”

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Langevin said he was humbled by the decades of experience and expertise his competitors brought to the event, with some of them working as green coffee buyers or “q graders,” people credentialed by the Coffee Quality Institute to evaluate coffees using standards developed by the Specialty Coffee Association of America.

By contrast, Langevin is mostly self-taught and only recently returned to the coffee field after working as an electrician for a year. “I have so much to learn,” he said. “I’m very much green when it comes to coffee.”

“Just to qualify for the event is an amazing feat. All his competitors at the event also had experience competing at that level,” said Coffee By Design co-founder Alan Spear, who was in the audience to watch Langevin at the semi-finals and finals. “I was impressed to see how composed he was, and his confidence. His palate is so fine-tuned.”

Langevin will travel to Melbourne, Australia, in September to compete in the World Cup Tasters at the Melbourne International Coffee Expo, part of his prize for winning the US competition. He also won a coffee origin trip to Brazil later this year.

“I’ve lived in Maine all my life, and the farthest I’ve traveled is to Canada, so this is all kind of blowing my mind,” Langevin said.

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Bar Futo and Twelve restaurant will combine forces for a special dinner at Evo on May 3 to give customers a sneak peek at menu items from the two restaurants, slated to open in Portland this summer. Shown, lr, Daniel Gorlas, general manager at Twelve; Colin Wyatt, chef at Twelve; Matt Ginn, executive chef at Evo; Alyssa DiPasquale, owner of The Koji Club in Boston, sake consultant for Bar Futo; Ian Driscoll, chef de cuisine at Bar Futo; Jordan Rubin, chef-owner of Mr. Tuna and Bar Futo, co-owner of Crispy Gai. Photo courtesy of Twelve and Bar Futo

Dinner offers sneak peek of food from Bar Futo, Twelve

Two of the most hotly anticipated restaurants opening in Portland this summer, Bar Futo and Twelve, will combine forces on May 3 for a special meal to tease dishes from their coming menus.

Evo Kitchen + Bar at 443 Fore St. in Portland will host the dinner, with two seatings: 5;30 pm and 8:30 pm A spokesperson for the event said tickets ($85) have sold out, but organizers are compiling a waitlist on the Evo website.

Twelve restaurant, opening in the historic Patterson Storehouse Building at 58 Fore St., will be a seasonal American fine-dining restaurant paying homage to local Maine ingredients. Twelve will be headed by chef Colin Wyatt (formerly of New York City’s Eleven Madison Park and Daniel, and Portland’s former Five Fifty-Five) and Matt Gin (Evo, Prentice) as well as general manager Daniel Gorlas (formerly of Per Se, also in Manhattan). The new restaurant will be part of the Prentice Hospitality Group, which also owns Evo Kitchen + Bar.

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Bar Futo is a Japanese-inspired bar and grill from the team behind Mr. Tuna and Crispy Gai: chef-partner Jordan Rubin and partner Marisa Lewiecki. Chef de cuisine Ian Driscoll (formerly of Eventide Oyster Co and Central Provisions, both in Portland) will head the Bar Futo kitchen when it opens at 425 Fore St. this summer.

The Twelve and Bar Futo teams are collaborating on the six-course menu for the event, including dishes from their respective menus. An optional sake pairing ($50) from Alyssa DiPasquale (from Boston’s The Koji Club) will be offered as a taste of Bar Futo’s forthcoming sake selection, alongside a la carte wine and beer selections from Twelve’s Gorlas.

Event organizers said a portion of the proceeds will be donated to World Central Kitchen to help feed Ukrainian war refugees.

NYC’s Charlie Bird comes to White Barn Inn

In another culinary collaboration, Kennebunk’s White Barn Inn, Auberge Resorts Collection, has partnered with hip downtown Manhattan restaurant Charlie Bird for a weekend-long event, Charlie Bird at White Barn Inn, April 22-24.

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White Barn Inn Restaurant Executive Chef Matthew Wolf will partner with Charlie Bird Chef Ryan Hardy for various events over the weekend, including an opening dinner on Friday, April 22 at 7 pm ($145/person with wine pairing, $95 without) featuring Charlie Bird classics like Crispy Skin Chicken with lemon, fennel and broccoli rabe and a five-course collaborative dinner on April 23 with two seatings ($165/person). Hardy and Wolf will also prepare some Charlie Bird dishes using iconic Maine seafood, such as razor clams with salted chiles.

The weekend will also include a wine tasting and a pasta-making workshop, among other activities.

Cooking school resumes live classes

After holding classes only on Zoom throughout the pandemic, Jillyanna’s Woodfired Cooking School in Kennebunkport plans to start in-person cooking classes again May 1, according to owner and founder Jill Strauss.

“We’re feeling very good about reopening this year,” Strauss said. “I think people are beginning to realize it’s OK to go out.”

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Now in its 10th year, Jillyanna’s offers classes in the art of cooking in a wood-burning oven, with a focus on pizzas and Mediterranean food. Strauss said her in-person classes usually host between four and eight students, and they shuttle between an indoor kitchen and the wood-fired oven outside.

“We try to keep it small and safe,” she said. “People learned a lot with the Zoom classes, but it’s just not the same. This experience is as much about personal bonding in small, intimate classes as it is about cooking.”

Earth Day beach cleanup

Mere Point Oyster Co. in Brunswick is looking to enlist volunteers for a coastal cleanup on Saturday, April 23. The effort will cover more than 15 miles of shoreline, from Flying Point to Simpsons Point.

Kelly Punch, community outreach manager for Mere Point Oyster Co., said as the pandemic threat wanes “and everybody’s actively looking for ways to be active,” the company figured that a good cause like a group cleanup might attract volunteers.

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“It’ll also give us a chance to educate people about the ocean and marine life, so people can feel a connection to the ocean,” Punch said, adding that dogs on leashes and children are welcome to attend the cleanup. “The younger we can get them interested in taking care of the ocean, the better.”

Volunteers will meet at 9 am on the 23rd, at multiple locations to be announced closer to the date. Mere Point will provide trash bags and gloves. When the work is done, Mere Point staff will shuck oysters for volunteers to enjoy at no cost.

To volunteer for the cleanup, email Punch at [email protected]


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